Jack Casey was a Christian Brother and an educator who. as principal of a CBS secondary school in Nenagh, Tipperary, imparted far more than the requisite "three R's" to his pupils.
In fact, his "pupils" really encompassed everyone he met, most of whom were subsequently infected with his remarkable zest for life. Perhaps there were more accomplished fiddlers and those with finer singing voices, but in all the years Rock has been around musicians, never has there been one better able to fill a room with joy as the mighty Jack Casey.
His Irish band "Ciotog" (left hand) came to Louisville in 1994 for a national convention of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and played at both the Irish Rover and The Rudyard Kipling. I have not seen audiences so well engaged in those venues as when Jack was roaring "C'mon ya boyos," causing hands to clap so hard and long that they smarted and voices, theretofore only heard in the showers, to join in. If you were in the room, Jack was with you.
Jack lost out to cancer and was buried in Cork last week. Over a thousand people crowded into the small village church to hear all sorts of tributes to his music and his character. If there are sessions in heaven, Jack is sure to in the middle of it. Slan.
With the likes of Roger McGuinn (the Byrds), Emmy Lou Harris, Kate Campbell, Peter Case, Vance Gilbert, Tanya Savory, Alan Rhody and others, Bardstown is a promising destination for folkies on Saturday, June 27 and Sunday, June 28 at the historic Wickland Estate, just north of My Old Kentucky Home on US 62 E. The gates open at 11 a.m. both days. Louisville's The Rashers will play on Saturday at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Unofficial house band of The Irish Rover, The Rashers often play there in informal sessions on the weekends. For more information on the Kentucky Folk Festival, call 1-800-638-4877.
The many Louisville fans of Cincinnati-based Silver Arm will be delighted to hear that they have just released a new CD, The Beech Tree, produced by Ged Foley (The House Band). SA will coming to Louisville in the future to play at Molly Malone's Pub. For CDs, send $17.50 (which covers postage and handling) to: Celtic Designs and Music, PO Box 9121, Cincinnati, OH 45209-0121. You can check them out on the web as well: http://home.fuse.net/smatyi.
Molly Malone's Irish Pub is slated to open some time in July and a grand opening will feature musicians from Ireland to be named.
Adding to the fine food and craic of The Irish Rover will be an embarrassment of riches for the Celtoids of Louisville.
R. P. McMurphy's "has legs" and continues to offer live Irish music in Cincy. A new Scottish pub, Nicholson's Pub, has opened downtown, offering an ungodly number of single malt scotches and occasional musical events. Soon to open on Montgomery Road is The Dubliner, which is reported to be committed to offering regular Celtic music. For more information, call Barb Kinney at (513) 531-6111. Coming soon, Quinn's of Covington - more details later.
There will apparently be no Irish Fest this year. There is some talk of a scaled-back version but nothing is firm as yet. The hope is that a newer, stronger event will emerge in 1999 at a new venue. Say your "Ave's," because the Louisville Irish Family Fest has been acknowledged as one of the best small Irish music events in North America.
Former Silver Arm member, Terry Blankenship, met trad master group Dervish when they were here for the '97 Irish Fest. They jammed into the wee hours. As a result, Terry has been invited to play at a festival in Sligo this summer. Terry is now backing Celtic songbird Margaret Lyle (f/k/a Margaret Gravitt). They will be performing in Lexington at the Woodland Festival on June 27.
"MacBeth" will be this year's sole production and quite a production it will be, complete with the Louisville Scottish Society in full regalia and The Louisville Pipe Band.
June 20 opens the festival at the Louisville Zoo, starting at 6:30 p.m., including highland dancing, a "bonniest knees" contest, storytelling and exhibits. For more information call 583-8738.
The popular Sunday evening (7 p.m.) concerts in the Cherokee Triangle include a Celtic offering this year: Galloglas on June 7. Fiddler Danette Kincaid Rhoads will have just returned from her mecca to Scotland and will no doubt be ready to rosin the bow like blazes.
Members of the Louisville and Nashville pipe bands decided to throw in together for the purpose of competing at this year's Highland Games. The judges thus far are giving L&N high marks. You just missed them at the Glasgow Highland Games but they will be competing again in October at the Heart of Tennessee Highland Games. They had their maiden voyage at the Kentucky Scottish Weekend in Carrollton which for the second year in a row had glorious weather. Having culled the LPB cream in pipers Robert Caudill, Pat Benningfield (to name a few) and drummer Rick McKenzie, they will be a force to be reckoned with.
The 2d annual Louisville Feis (pronounced "fesh") will be held June 13 at Bellarmine College. This is principally an Irish stepdancing contest as well as other competitions in instrumental music, story telling and cooking. Call 897-1400 for more information. The Bluegrass Irish Dancers (the host academy) will begin taking registration in August for fall classes beginning the second week in September.